Total Pageviews

random musings of a crazy cat lady

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Easy Quinoa Salad

I haven't stopped cooking, but I have been slacking on my blogging for the last couple of years.  Anyway, during that time I've discovered a lot of recipes that have become standbys. Here is one

Quinoa Salad with Feta, Cucumbers and Tomatoes

1 1/2 cups quinoa, washed well
2 1/2 cups water
1/2 tsp salt

1 cucumber, chopped
8 oz cherry tomatoes, cut in half
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tbsp dried oregano
1/2 cup vinaigrette (make you own or use store-bought)*

6-8 oz feta cheese, cubed or crumbled

Combine vegetables, garlic, and vinaigrette.  Allow mix to sit in fridge overnight.  (If you're pressed for time you can skip this step) 

Cook quinoa until all liquid has been absorbed.  It will be soft but not mushy.  Transfer to large bowl and let it cool to lukewarm.  Add vegetable/vinaigrette mixture and stir gently to combine.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Chill in fridge.  Before serving,  add feta cheese.  It tastes better if you let it sit in the fridge for a few hours before serving.

* When I make my own vinaigrette I use a combination of lemon juice, red wine vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper and sometimes green onions or chives.  It's a forgiving recipe so it is fine with store bought Italian dressing too.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Adulting and Emotional Labor

This is an old post which sat in my 'drafts' box for a long time, but I'm killing time and blogging now that my writer's block has been beaten in to submission.

If you haven't done so already I highly recommend checking out the Metafilter megadocument on emotional labor.  Once you're done reading it, let me know, and we can start making plans to go live on Crone Island.  Well, not really, but it got me thinking a lot about it, because up until fairly recently I did not know what emotional labor was, and it's actually a huge portion of how I spend my day, if you include what I do at work.

For the TL:DR version of things, emotional labor, as colloquially defined by feminists in terms of people's daily lives, covers a lot of ground but gets lumped into the "second shift" of stuff people do.  The "I want a wife" post summarizes it in a nutshell.  Some examples include buying groceries, cleaning, cooking dinner, making doctor appointments, sending birthday cards to grandma, going to parent teacher conferences, helping the kids with homework, etc, etc.  I'm going to lump all of this boring stuff into what I call "adulting."  The rest is more subjective, but includes offering emotional support for spouses/lovers/friends, subjecting one's own needs for others, remembering everyone else's preferences and schedules, etc.    I'll call this emotional labor.

So the core discussion is that adulting and emotional labor are work, take time, use up mental bandwidth and are tiring.  On average, women have been socialized from birth to do these things more than men have.  This often leads to situations where the person doing more of the adulting and emotional labor is frazzled, stressed, etc, and the person who's not doing it has more free time and doesn't get what all the fuss is about.

I'm really good at adulting.  That doesn't mean I always like it, even though the perks are good.  I was really happy in grad school when I could just work in the lab and hang out with my friends.  I lived in a dorm and never cooked.  I did not have a car.  I did not own any furniture and packed all my stuff into a friend's truck when I moved to NC.  I called myself a minimalist, but in reality I just didn't have to do a lot of adulting.  As I've gotten older, I've spent an increasing amount of time adulting.  Gotta go refinance that mortgage.  Gotta talk to my financial advisor.  Gotta go to the dentist twice a year and the doctor once a year for a checkup.  Gotta clean the house, gotta take my car in for an oil change, gotta take the cat to the vet, gotta send that form in to HR, etc etc.  One of my students graduated and then stayed in town for a few weeks before starting her real job.  During this time, she got her driver's license, dealt with the movers, set up a new bank account, located and rented an apartment from 750 miles away, etc.  She came in and told my boss and I that she didn't know how we dealt with that stuff - it was exhausting!  We laughed and told her it only got worse, but there were some advantages too.  In my current job, I do a lot of what I will call research adulting.  I like fixing instruments and making sure the big fancy robot works well, but hate ordering stuff, so I outsource as much as possible to the senior students and departmental folks, but nonetheless the buck stops here.  This is different from my previous job, where we had lots of technicians/facilities people/IT support and they kept things humming really smoothly.  I'm not going to lie - I really miss that aspect of my old job.

I'm ok at emotional labor.  I consciously try to be a good friend, but know that I have my faults.  I'm introverted and although I love to talk to y'all on the phone, I have this weird introvert phobia of picking up the phone and making a call, and I rely too heavily on text/email/Facebook.  Joe is an extrovert and is much better at emotional labor than I am, although I am better at adulting. 

In my mid-forties, I suddenly was doing a lot more adulting and emotional labor than I'd ever done before, due to the combination of job stuff and Joe 'guesting' at my house 95% of the time but not officially living there.  I was surprised by how scatterbrained it made me feel.  Things got better once I started delegating more at work and Joe officially moved in so I got out of host mode and he got out of guest mode.   We're continuing to get better at playing to our strengths and dividing up the adulting.  He reminds me to call my mother.  I remind him to get his oil changed.  Anyway,  I'm over the hump now, but for about a year it was challenging.  When I discovered the metafilter document it was my own 'Eureka' moment. I realized that it wasn't just my imagination or a failure on my part - this stuff is draining and bandwidth consuming for everyone. 

I had a very busy month at work. I had a student visiting to run experiments on the robot, and we had a jam-packed schedule.  Soon after that ended, it was research proposal time with a big dose of election distraction mixed in.  At the outset, I decided I was going to minimize the amount of adulting I did.  Joe helped a lot with household stuff, and for the rest of it I just gave myself permission to put it on hold unless I wanted to procrastinate.  I'm still fried from the proposal, but it was a huge help to put most of the adulting on hold.

Election 2016: I Can't Even...

My family is like a microcosm of what went wrong in this election.
My mother raised me to be like Hillary Clinton, but she voted for Donald Trump.  Words cannot fully describe how pissed off I am about this. She has voted Democrat since the 80's.  She waited for several hours to see Bill Clinton's motorcade when he came to town for something back in the 90's.
My dad, who also raised me to be like Hillary, voted for Gary Johnson, but this was somewhat less surprising since he's usually just to the right of my mom politically and mostly votes Republican. They're live in CA so it really didn't make a difference, but it doesn't make it any better.
My brother didn't vote.  He never does.  He lives in Arizona.  It's not a swing state now but probably will be soon.
I voted for Hillary, of course.  It would be easy to say that the results are not my fault, that it's random uneducated white people in towns in middle of the country, but my own family, particularly my mother, suggests otherwise. Collectively, the four of us are part of the problem.
I didn't ask my mom who she was going to vote for, since I assumed it would be Hillary and it's usually kind of hard to get a word in edgewise, anyway.  Normally I call her out on some of the more sexist things she says (which seem to be increasing lately).  My dad told me, after the election, that my mom "just doesn't like Hillary." I am kicking myself for not discussing the election with her.  She's a smart woman, and went to college at a time when that was still sort of uncommon for women to do so.  But she also has a lifelong fondness for talk radio (which mostly veers right these days), and a new-found fondness for clickbait and its young cousin fake news.  I also know she has absorbed a lot of internalized misogyny, and it's rearing its ugly head now, perhaps due to all the talk radio.
I can't even...